“The stranger who finds himself in the Dials for the first time…at the entrance of Seven obscure passages, uncertain which to take, will see enough around him to keep his curiosity awake for no inconsiderable time…”
– Charles Dickens
Seven Dials is one of my favorite areas of the West End. Like almost every section of London it’s gone through disreputable, slum, upscale, and upheaval phases (Covent Garden was of course the infamous haunt of Georgian prostitutes, and Agatha Christie set a murder mystery novel by the same name in the area) but it’s emerged nicely. Pretty shops, many retaining their historical facades and character, mix with restaurants and theatres. The hidden gem of Neal’s Yard is here, along with one of my favorite places to eat.
Last week the area shut down to car traffic and banded most of the shops together in discounts to kick off seasonal shopping. The lights were strung and on at full, twinkling brightness, street vendors sold ware ranging from food to millinery, and a band (called The Dukes of York) serenaded the revelers. It was a great night to wander.